Early Guitars and Vihuela

A network for historic guitars and vihuelas

Selling some viennese/german romantic guitars, mostly early 20th century

I possess a small collection of historic "Viennese guitars". Some of them I found on fleemarket or in second hand shops, from ads or private contact, in Vienna. Only three of them bear maker/seller/factory labels.

I've repaired most of what needed to be fixed, using bone/hide glue. This mostly means filling cracks in the top with shims of spruce, re-glueing or bridges, making bone nuts where the original wooden nut was damaged, replacing missing ornaments (like the MOP eyes at he end of a "grin" type bridge). The materials I chose for replacement mostly come from other similar ancient guitars that were broken beyond repair.

Concerning my expertise: I'm an amateur musician who has been interested in repairing and building instruments since the early 1990s, and started to collect them while gathering experience in this field. I'm in contact with local builders and have received appreciation for my work. I've fixed several broken guitars and other string instruments for private customers to their great satisfaction. I've built a baroque mandolin on my own, a very nice cigar box ukulele with one-piece neck (spanish heel), and a baroque lute following David van Edwards' course that sounds and looks awesome, yet needs a slight string action adjustment I'll carry out eventually, and plan to continue building instruments as time permits (currently my situation doesn't really allow this).

While writing this post I realize it's difficult to describe them in a general manner, as they all have their individual history and the repairs I've done go from faithful restoration to heavy modification. Some still need a little fixup for action or other smaller repairs, which I'm open to either debate and carry out with the customer before selling, or sell the guitars as-is for a slightly reduced amount.

Now my private situation forces me to sell some of these, and I thought it might be of interest for some members here. The prices I hope to achieve are in the range 200 - 800 €. If interested, please get in touch by PM and we'll surely find an arrangement. People living in my area the instruments can contact me for a visit to play and inspect them.

Attached are a few selected pictures, I can make and send more on demand.

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Hello Edgar,

These are somewhat outside the scope of this website, but maybe people are interested anyway. Maybe you could start out by giving the information that is on the labels, where available?

Dear Jelma,

I am aware of the fact, the group description on the main page says "up to 1850".

Nevertheless I took the liberty to post here as I think these guitars are pretty similar to some of those earlier Biedermeier ones by Stauffer etc., so I thought someone might be interested in a cheaper instrument for a start or as backup.

There is a lively contemporary viennese music scene that relates to traditional Heurigenmusik (Schrammel etc.) and I happen to know a few of these musicians. I plan to use these contacts and also put my announce on willhaben, a huge secondhand marketplace. But before going to a public marketplace I thought I should try to address players interested in just this sort of instrument.

Three of my guitars bear labels, and all of them refer to sellers rather than makers. Photos are attached:

1. Josef Leopold Pick (rightmost on first picture)

This was the owner of a well established music shop in Vienna, better known for the technically enhanced accordions he built, played himself and wrote a school book for. This page has a very interesting obituary (in german): https://starsingars.wordpress.com/2017/06/19/josef-leopold-pick-wah...

If I remember well I read somewhere that the shop was carried on by his son for a decade or more, under the same name for the first few years, so that all this doesn't necessarily mean that the instrument I try to sell is from before 1917. The typography and artwork on the label look somewhat later to me, but that's a guess.

It definitely is one of the finest instruments out of those I sell, in very good condition, with rosewood fretboard, frets without signs of wear, simple binding and rosette typical for viennese origin, plain maple neck/sides/one-piece back, great action. well working original tuners with ivory buttons, no cracks in the top. Sounds clear and loud.

2. Spezial Musikinstrumentenhaus Wien, XVII Ottakringer Straße 94

I'm unable to find any trace of this shop, but I've been told that around 1900 this kind of guitars were mass-built in the suburbs, in semi-industrial ways, and branded later at the store.

This is the second instrument from right on the same picture, and has suffered severe damage before I found it. The bridge had been partially off, but a previous attempt to reglue it with some elastic clue had failed miserably. the lower bout was torn up by 5 cm as the binding was missing and the bar under the bridge had split. This was my first serious repair attempt about 20 years ago, I removed the bridge, reglued the bar as well as possible (unfortunately at the time I didn't know about fish glue so I chose PVA for this job) without taking it more apart, reglued the top, completed the missing binding, filled the cracks in the top and glued on a new bridge that's more like on a modern classical guitar. Then I sanded off the old oil varnish and put some linseed stand oil on it, which led to the dramatic redish matte finish it has (the colour got fainter since but still...)

Honestly I don't expect, and if there were interest I'd be very hesitating, to sell this guitar, it has a cheap beech or similar ebonized fretboard where the black stain is almost but not completely off now, and with all these weird modifications it will never pay the amount of work I put in it. But it's in very playable condition and sounds really well, a bit more mid-range and projective than the first one.

3. Karl Kratochwil, Wien II., Pazmanitengasse 25

Also no trace of this shop, except an occasional second hand Zither ad with the same name on label.

Mahogany fretboard, probably maple neck (greenish stain, high gloss varnish, flamed maple sides and one-piece back stained red, This one is in good overall condition but obviously from a later period, the bindings are probably made from celluloid. There was a tiny crack from bottom to bridge thaat I tried to fill with superglue, which left some traces that surely can be removed with a proper solvent.

Honestly I don't like the look of this guitar, and the action is a bit low at the bass side of the neck towards the body joint. So it would need a higher bridge saddle or a sort of neck reset or evening the frets from around 10th fret upwards, that I'm currently unable to carry out myself. I'd let this one go for a small amount, maybe around half of the 200 € minimum I mentioned above.

I'll comment on the other guitars too but, at a later point, this reply took me around 3 hours already.

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